Obedience is the Only Acceptable Expression of Respect

I am writing tonight from my beautiful hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

When I tell one of my students at school to clean the dry erase board he does not come up to me several minutes later saying, “I memorized what you told me to do.” Memorizing is not the goal. Obedience is the goal. This is why I find this week’s Sabbath School lesson so crucial as it stresses the importance of not only understanding or even memorizing the Bible but actually doing what it says. I know people who show great respect for the Bible by not placing anything on top of it or by not setting it on the ground, treating it much the way we do our nation’s flag. This is commendable, but I believe and I’m sure you do too, that the greatest way to show respect for God’s Word is to do what it says. Otherwise not stacking things on top of the Bible or not letting it touch the ground is meaningless if we are not doing what it says. After all what traitor could stand before a judge and say, “Sure I traded military secrets to the enemy but I never let the flag touch the ground.” Treating the flag with respect is meaningless if we are betraying the nation it represents.

Today when writing even a pronoun for God like “He” and “Him” we capitalize the pronouns referring to God out of respect. However you may have already noticed that in the Bible the pronouns for God are not capitalized. What gives? Did the Bible translators have no respect for God and His holiness? No, they had great respect for God, but they realized that the best way to show respect for God is to do what He says, and not just simply write His name with capital letters. After all, writing pronouns referring to God with capital letters is quite hallow if we are not exhibiting the greatest form of respect which is obedience. 

After all, nowhere in Scripture does it tell us not stack anything on top of the Bible or make sure we write pronouns referring to God with capital letters. Nowhere in Scripture are we told the importance of merely memorizing Scripture if we are not prepared to actually  do what it says. In Luke 10 a lawyer engages Jesus in a theological discussion regarding the law and salvation. Jesus commends the lawyer for his theory on theology. But even as Jesus commends his theory as being theologically correct He also lets him know more than head knowledge and theory is required. 

Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:28 NLT 

Jesus was not satisfied with theological head knowledge. Jesus wanted the lawyer to do what the law says. Jesus then illustrates His point with the story of the good Samaritan, who practiced loving his neighbor. The Samaritan was doing in the story what the lawyer was only talking about. At the end of the story Jesus reiterates the importance of doing what the law says instead of just studying and memorizing the law. 

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:37 NLT 

A few years ago I was a part of a discussion where someone was saying that we don’t need to obey the health and temperance principles in the Bible. We only need to call upon the name of the Lord and we will be saved. He referenced Romans 10:13. I agreed that Romans 10:13 does indeed say those who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved, but we can’t call Jesus “Lord” if we are not obeying Him. Matthew 7:21-23 makes it clear that we are calling on the name of the Lord in vain if we are not obeying His laws. After all obedience is the result of salvation. 

 Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. Philippians 2:12 NLT 

When Jesus was at the wedding party with His mother, and they ran out of wine, His mother told the servants something extremely simple but equally  profound.

“Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:5 NLT 

Many years ago I was the guest speaker at a church where a family had just lost a child. The pastor explained to me that they would take up an offering for the family to help with funeral expenses and assured me they would still take up the customary offering to cover my expenses traveling to their church. When the plea was made for the family’s offering someone testified how poor the family was. I perceived the Holy Spirit nudging me to tell the pastor sitting on the platform with me to collect all of the money for the family  and not to take up an offering for me. I sat there a few moments considering what I felt the Holy Spirit telling me. Did I have the money to pay for this trip myself? Then I perceived the Holy Spirit speaking to my conscience again, “What is there to think about or consider? I just told you what to do!” I then leaned over and whispered in the pastor’s ear to forget about my offering and give it all to the family. I never missed the money I would have received that day. More importantly I did what I knew God was telling me to do. 

It was not enough for me to know what God was telling me to do. It was not enough for me to memorize what God was telling me to do. The minimum God was requiring of me was to actually do what He was telling me to do. So it is with studying God’s Word. It is not enough to study. It is not enough to understand. It is not enough to memorize. We must obey the Word of God. 

Video-What Role Does the Bible Play in a World Where Everyone Does Whatever Seems Right in Their Own Eyes?

For a written transcript click here.

The Scriptures In Light Of The Cross- With New Living Translation

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You may download a printable copy of In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides- NLT here.

The Scriptures

 

Brief overview: The Scriptures are inspired by God to lead us into a relationship with Him that will give us eternal salvation in heaven and a prosperous life here on earth. See 2 Timothy 3:15-16John 20:31.

Why it is important to know the truth about the Scriptures: 

Years ago I lived on a ranch helping out occasionally with the horses. The ranch had a very nice swimming pool just up the road from the mobile home where I lived. One evening I invited a family to go swimming. As we walked back on that road towards my home it was dark and a big juicy spider had made a web between the trees on each side of the road. Fortunately we had a flashlight that exposed the spider right before we walked into it. The children were terrified of the spider and walked around the trees to avoid this “monster.” When we returned to the house, I shared with the family Psalms 119:105, “Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” I shared with them that just as our flashlight saved us from the spider’s web, God’s Word saves us from Satan’s webs. It is because of Satan’s webs that so many different beliefs and doctrines abound about the Bible. Satan has done his best to confuse people’s understanding of the Bible: not so our understanding of doctrine will be confused, for Satan knows we are not saved by doctrine but by God’s love and grace. Satan has worked hard to corrupt our understanding of God’s love and grace for he knows that is where salvation comes from and he does not want us to be saved. We needn’t worry. The same Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible is the Same Holy Spirit that will teach it to us, if we just ask.

Why understanding the Scriptures in the light of the cross is important: 

Many people ignore the Bible and many of those who do read it, read it only out of curiosity as a fairy tail book or some science fiction novel. The Bible is more than just prophecy or ancient stories. It is a love letter from God Himself. The Bible helps us develop a loving relationship with our God who showed us on the cross that He loves us more than He loves life itself. See John 20:31 and 2 Timothy 3:15.

 

For Further Studies on the Scriptures

What is the origin of the Bible?                                                                                              

Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT

What does Jesus call God’s word?                                                                                             

Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.  John 17:17 NLT

How much of the Bible is inspired?                                                                                     

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

Note: The Scriptures, and not family or church tradition tell us what is right or wrong.

What is the word of God to be to us?                                                                                       

Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105 NLT

Note: God does not give us the Bible just to be a control freak or tyrant, anymore than the authors of a recipe book write in order to be control freaks or tyrants. The writers of the recipe know what it takes for their creation to turn out right, and God knows what it takes of our lives to turn out right.

What is the reason the Bible was written?                                                                              

But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.  John 20:31 NLT

How are we to study the Scriptures?                                                                                                             

He tells us everything over and over- one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!  Isaiah 28:10 NLT

Note: Our Bible beliefs or doctrines, come from comparing what the entire Bible says on the subject in order to get the big picture, instead of just getting our doctrine from one verse. For example, Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us the Spirit returns to God when we die, so many think that we go to heaven when we die. But if we take “a little here, and a little there,” we see in Job 27:3 that the spirit is simply our breath. So the big picture tells us our breath goes back to God, but nothing conscience returns to God till after the resurrection mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. There is more on this in the study about “Death in Light of the Cross.”

What do some do with God’s word?                                                                                     

speaking of these things in all of his [Paul] letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction2 Peter 3:16 NLT

What must we never do?                                                                                                         

 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding,[a] 2 peter 1:20 NLT

Footnotes:

  1. 1:20 Or is a matter of one’s own interpretation.(Footnote Supplied from the New Living Translation.)

Note: We must let the Bible interpret itself and not make up our own interpretation.

Who will guide us in Bible Study?

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13 NLT

How often should we study the Bible?                                                                                 

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT

Note: The people of Berea searched the Scriptures every day, and did not just take Paul and Silas’ word for everything, but looked to the Scriptures for their source of truth. Again, we follow family and church traditions only as far as they go along with Scripture. Is it your desire to order your life in harmony with the Scriptures instead of the traditions of man?